Men and women communicate differently. They may use the same
words, but they place different connotations and emotional
emphasis on them. This gender difference often leads to
misunderstanding and can unintentionally hurt each otherís
feelings. In order to develop harmonious work relations between
sexes, each gender must first understand where all this
miscommunication stems from.
One of the major differences
in how men and women communicate is in their emphasis on task
vs. relationship. Men primarily are task-oriented. They
communicate to convey information, to solve a problem or to get
things done. They use fewer words to get to the point and appear
more competent to other men. Each point is essential and in a
linear sequence to form a logical conclusion. This quality
presents men to women as impersonal and insensitive, thus
risking losing the trust of women in working with them.
Women, on the other hand, communicate to build and maintain
relationships, and also as a means to generate and share
creative ideas. They need to talk about the job before working,
to feel assured they have the facts right before assuming
responsibility. This quality presents women to men as incapable
of doing the job right, thus risking losing the respect of men
in the course of working together.
John Gray, the author
of Mars and Venus in the Workplace, has identified four reasons
why women talk. Men have only one reason and that is to convey
content. This places the burden on them to adjust to how women
communicate. The following are the four reasons:
Talking to make a point: In this regard both sexes agree.
However, women use talking to convey more than facts, figures
and logical derivations.
2. Talking to give and receive
emotional support: Women often use language to inform each other
of their emotional state, similar to an FYI note. They do not
expect anything to be done about it, or that someone should be
blamed for it. As a result the degree of rapport and trust is
increased, and stress is minimized.
3. Talking to relieve
tension: Women talk to relieve normal stress and job pressures,
and also to share ideas on how to manage stress. Men, on the
other hand, internally strategize how to manage stress and gain
4. Talking to discover a point: Men
generally know what they are going to say before they speak, but
a woman may just begin talking and gradually discover what she
has to say. Actually, most creative people, either male or
female, work this way. They start vaguely on something, and
later develop focus on a certain point of expression. Men,
however, lose patience with this roundabout way of getting to
Gray also gave suggestions on what men can do
to earn the trust of women and create a more harmonious work
atmosphere. He emphasized actively listening to what women were
saying and not saying. Listen to their tone of voice, look at
the way they move their hands and body, and think of what they
really meant. Demonstrate whenever and wherever possible the
message that you care, understand and respect. A simple
statement that shows you relate to her emotional state helps.
About the Author:
Claire BretaŮa is an AB Psychology
Graduate and the current webmistress of
http://www.diversityworking.com/, a job listing site
offering equal employment opportunities for minority groups who
needed representation in the workplace.